When I first got a glimpse of Dark Horse’s latest comic, Walt Disney Return of The Gremlin, I didn’t know what to expect. The only thing I know about Gremlins is to not feed them after midnight, Gizmo is awesome, and no gremlin is a fan of getting wet.
What I didn’t know was that there was all this history and legend behind these Gremlins, which might be even more amazing. These tiny, mischievous beings were said to have sabotaged airplanes and wartime missions by the Royal Air Force. When James Dahl, the beloved author of such titles as James in the Giant Peach, Matilda, and The Witches, was injured in World War II after a crash, he started to develop the myth of The Gremlins in his newly found spare time. As luck would have it, Dahl had to get the story approve by his military superiors, which ended with his story in the hands of the one and only Walt Disney.
The two collaborated for a week, Disney inviting Dahl to California. When Dahl left, he handed the project off to Walt Disney and his team of animators. There were a few issues along the way and eventually the over all project was scrapped. The legend of the Gremlins had become so popular that even though the feature would be set aside, many military branches wanted a chance to have their logo redone with the image of a Gremlin.
While we never got to see Disney and Dahl make a movie together, Dark Horse Comics has given us the next best thing bringing the art and story to life in a vibrant, colorful comic adventure. You can find three stories linked beautifully together trough the writing of Mike Richardson. He shows his understanding of the lightheartedness these characters bring. However, it is the art that really makes this enjoyable. THERE IS SO MUCH DETAIL in almost every page, it is astonishing.
In the first bit of Return of The Gremlins we get an understanding of the plot. The Gremlins are upset because when the War started, their forest was cut down to make a base. In their fight for their land, they decided to tinker with the planes in a not-so-friendly way. That is until one day, a pilot named Gus strikes a deal with them. They help the pilots and Gus will find them a new home they never would have to leave again. The rest of the story develops as Young Gus, Gus grandson, shows up to get his grandfather’s house ready for the market. Imagine his surprise when he sees hundreds of little creatures running around.
Of course Return of the Gremlins has the Disney feeling to it, all the way down to the a cute love interest. But what’s wrong with that? Sometimes it is all we need, to read a quick story that lights us up with laughter and the sweet “awww” feeling. I really hope we will see more of the work of this team, as well as more Gremlins.